4 killed, HC chairmen held in Kashmir; 'chakka jam' in Jammu

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Srinagar/Jammu, Aug 25 (UNI) Four people were killed and over 60 others injured when security forces opened fire, burst teargas shells and resorted to lathicharge to disperse processionists who defied curfew restrictions in different parts of the Kashmir valley today.

Chairmen of both factions of Hurriyat Conference (HC) and JKLF chief Mohammad Yaseen Malik were among more than 100 separatist leaders and workers arrested in the Valley.

Curfew was, meanwhile, re-imposed in Kathua town of Jammu after fresh violence left 12 injured during complete 'chakka jam' in the region.

Official sources said four people, including a woman, were killed and over 60 others injured, half of them with bullets, when security forces tried to disperse processionists in the Valley.

One person was killed when security forces opened fire at Tahab in south Kashmir district of Pulwama to disperse protesters who defied curfew and raised ''pro-freedom'' slogans.

A woman was killed in another similar incident at Chotipora Handwara, while one of the injured in earlier security forces firing died in the hospital.

A CRPF jawan was stabbed during demonstration at Beerwa in central Kashmir district of Badgam.

However, a police spokesman said the mob turned violent and pelted stones on security forces.

He said some rounds of bullet were fired by the mob injuring two CRPF and two police personnel. The security forces retaliated resulting in injuries to about 15 protesters. Later, the situation was brought under control.

Locals, meanwhile, refuted the claim of the spokesman and said security forces resorted to unprovoked firing on peaceful processionists who were only raising slogans. They alleged that four people were killed and 30 others wounded in the security force firing.

The spokesman said at Hiree, Kupwara, security forces had to resort to lathicharge and burst teargas to control a violent mob.

He said as the violence did not subside, the security forces had to open fire causing injuries to two people.

Hundreds of people at Batmaloo defied the curfew restrictions and took to the streets, raising ''pro-freedom'' slogans and demanding opening of the Jehlum Valley and other roads with Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) for trade and free movement.

As they were marching towards the general bus stand, the CRPF lathicharged them. About ten people were injured in the CRPF action.

Chairmen of both factions of HC and JKLF chief were among more than 100 separatist leaders and workers arrested in the valley.

An official spokesman said Mr Malik, who had gone underground last evening, was arrested from an area in the city today.

About 100 second rank and other separatist leaders including the Hurriyat Chiefs were taken into custody during the last 24 hours to prevent them from participating in the 'Lal Chowk' march-- call for which was given by the Coordination Committee (CC)-- spearheading the present agitation in the valley.

Another senior separatist leader Shakeel Ahmad Bakshi was also arrested today, official sources said.

The security forces also arrested chairman of HC(M) Mirwaiz Moulvi Omar Farooq along with some others from his Nigeen house at 0145 hrs.

Officials said the arrests were made as a precautionary measure to avoid any untoward incident in the city.

Mr Geelani and Mr Omar were scheduled to address the ''Lal Chowk'' meeting today.

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